LEXINGTON, Ky. --- The University of Kentucky on Monday announced the contract of head football coach Guy Morriss has been extended through the 2005 season.
Director of Athletics Larry Ivy made the announcement at the UK Athletics Association board meeting. The agreement extends the one-year deal Morriss agreed to when he was named to replace Hal Mumme on Feb. 6.
I was impressed with Guy Morriss when he was our assistant head coach, which led me to consider him (when choosing a new head coach), Ivy said. My impressions were solidified when I recognized the support he had from the players.
Ive been even more encouraged by the way hes handled the program for the past six months, the attitude of the players, and the enthusiasm theyve shown. Obviously, we feel that the extension is necessary to assist in our recruiting efforts. One of the first questions a recruit asks is, Who is the coach going to be? and that had to be addressed.
Following Monday's practice session, Morriss seemed relieved to have the new deal finalized.
"I think what I feel so good about is knowing that the people you have to answer to are appreciating what we're doing," said Morriss, who is a head coach for the first time in his 14 years on the sidelines. "Obviously, we haven't played a ballgame yet, but I think it sends a message from the administration to us that they like what we're doing, and I'm confident it will continue to be that way.
"I can't tell you how much I appreciate Larry Ivy. He's backed me to the hilt. He's supported us and given us everything we need to be successful. If you could say this program has a No. 1 fan, it's Larry Ivy."
Morriss also noted the importance of reaching a new deal to assist recruiting. Prospective players have notified the UK staff that other schools have been using the contract situation against Morriss and the Cats.
"Larry, obviously, was not going to let that get in the way of rebuilding this program," he said. "
Financial terms of the new contract were not disclosed, but the agreement has a so-called "performance clause" that will allow either party to end the deal should it feel necessary. Kentucky will not be responsible for a "buyout" --- such as the costly separation with Mumme --- should it decide to cut ties with Morriss before the end of the contract.
"I just asked Larry for the opportunity to have this job," Morriss said. "At that time we had heard all through the spring about the buyout and all that stuff. I told him it wasn't a big deal to me. I just told Larry, 'Give me a chance to do this job, and don't even worry about buying me out. If I can't do the job, I'll be gone in 60 seconds anyway, and you don't owe me a nickel.'"
The players, who lobbied on behalf of Morriss after Mumme resigned, were also pleased with news of the extension.
"We went to Larry Ivy simply because of all the respect we have for coach Morriss," said junior tight end Derek Smith. "People from the outside don't get to see what a great person he is, how he treats us, and how much he really knows about football. We have a ton of respect for what he's done in the past and for his knowledge of the game. We wanted him out here leading us.
"We want to go out there and show him we're a good team because he believes in us."